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Wearing Orange

Bishop orange stole 1 (1)



Orange may seem like a strange color this time of year. Your home may be sparkling with red and green, blue and silver or just the colors of your daily life.


As the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre approaches, many people across our nation will wear orange as they walk for Gun Violence Prevention this Sunday. They will wear orange because it was a color chosen by teens in Chicago to honor their friend Hadiya Pendleton, the color that hunters wear to send the message “I’m here. Don’t shoot me”.

I’ve read, prayed, listened, pondered, researched and still my heart aches. Most of us, on both sides of the gun conversation, feel desperate and fearful, two emotions that rarely lead to wise actions or grace-filled living.

I come at life from a Christian perspective, but know that most other religions share the same  reverence for life that Christ manifests. Religions are not our problem. It is individuals or groups using their particular view of religion or God as a shield, as a divisive lens, as a justification for beliefs, rhetoric or action that would cause harm to anyone else.

As a mother, grandmother, godmother, wife, friend, minister, gun violence survivor, I cannot be quiet in the face of violence and discrimination. I cannot be silent when people continue to be gunned down in their homes or any public place imaginable. I cannot refrain from writing or speaking when a group, any marginalized group, is threatened because they are likened to extremists or because they do not fit the norm or the known. I cannot be quiet while people incite others to take up their guns and commit murder.

It’s easy to feel that we are each trying to empty the ocean with our own little teaspoon. It is easy to feel paralyzed, but inaction is not effective for change. Talk to someone who believes differently than you. Call your elected officials. Vote. Educate yourself and others.

One little thing I am doing with my teaspoon is making orange stoles for at least ten clergy. He or she can wear the stole on Gun Violence Awareness Day June 2nd.  She or he can wear the stole on any Sunday to lift up awareness and encourage action. Each of the stoles is a simple orange stole with a little triangle of green to represent hope.

The first orange stole I made was for Bishop Robert Hoshibata, our resident bishop in the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church. Bishop Bob (pictured) has taken a strong stance on gun violence prevention and is imploring every congregation in our conference to engage in education about the issues.

I will be glad when we no longer need wear orange and work for gun violence prevention. Until then, I’ll keep speaking out, praying, writing, voting, trying to have conversations and buying orange fabric.

December 11, 2015 Cynthia Langston Kirk


Teach Us to Pray

Teach Us to Pray


Sometimes people believe they must teach children about all manners of the Holy –

Names for God, when to dance divine praise, how to pray and the likes.

Yes, there are concepts to teach and opportunities in which to invite,

But there is much to learn about spiritual matters from the young,

Even those we do not completely understand.


His language not completely his own invention

Hatful of words are as clear as a pane untouched by his adventurous hands:

Mama, Daddy, no, yah – verbal skills in process.

We wait … and listen,

Eager to understand this mono dimple-cheeked boy.

Phrases repeated oft in chant-like fashion

Sounding like a foreign, incomprehensible tongue,

But he knows, yet remains somehow unperturbed by us

And our slow-to-understand ears.

Vocabulary sprouts daily

Words linked for phrases, expanded to stories.

His joys are simple:

Strawberries, being chased, filling every room with laughter, his sister,

Family gathered ‘round the table to eat,

Loved ones holding hands before table grace,

Praying…. and praying …. and praying again.

Before-the-meal prayer offered by an older person,

But when the Spirit moves him

He cues diners to clasp hands again.

His face morphs to instant serene; his non-stop body holds still;

Only his lips move with hardly an audible sound projected.

He prays and those gathered are caught up, taught, inspired.

He prays for God-only-knows what –

Berries? World peace? People who love him? The child who bit him?

When he is finished – for the moment –

He concludes with his version of Amen and a delighted-with-the-world smile.

He prays and with less than two years on his life calendar

Does what many with theological degrees long to do

He leads people to God.


©Father’s Day (June 14) 2014 Cynthia Langston Kirk



Hope ~ Poem





Dry bones aching for connection

Whispered prayer in the darkness

Stone hearts longing to beat again

A solitary bud in winter

This is hope

The deep, unfathomable belief

That God can blaze a way

In every pathless place

This is hope

That receives the inspiring, infusing, reviving

Breath of the Holy

This is hope

Green, wild and miraculous

©May 2010 Cynthia Langston Kirk

As An Old Woman ~ Poem

                                         As An Old Woman

When I’m an old woman I shall wear thread and fabric bits stuck to my skirt

Confetti for a party-on-the-move.

When I’m an old woman

I shall carry poetry fragments and song phrases

Dangling from my fingertips like jewelry.

When I’m an old woman I’ll whistle joy

And tell you stories of people that will shape your heart.

When I am old I will have tiny pockets

Filled with beads of every color and shape,

Large pockets for scissors, sticks, sketch pads

Sensible and peculiar tools for creating.

When I’m an old woman

I’ll feed birds from bowls tied to my shoes

And learn the songs they share.

When I’m an old woman I’ll make you pancakes

Shaped like pigs and flamingoes

Serve them with apricot syrup and delight.

When I’m an old woman I’ll sit by the ocean,

Drink in the fog; then paddle a kayak one more time.

When I am old we’ll sing songs about God –

Love that knows no bounds and justice that requires our involvement,

How Jesus loves all the little children

Red, yellow, black, brown, white.

When I’m an old woman I will pray

For those I know, for those I don’t know

And for those I can no longer remember.

When I am an old woman

My heart will be filled with decades of love

And I will be grateful.



          ©Febraury 21, 2012  Cynthia Langston Kirk